Friday, 29 January 2016

The Hot Toddy

All things considered, the winter must be dealt with. Pitilessly.

Beat the chill. Arm yourself with an abundant supply of whiskey, lashings of lemons and cloves, and fight back.

STEP ONE.  The trick is to heat your glass first, so rinse it out with boiling water just as you would heat a teapot prior to making tea.

STEP TWO.  Watch the cold begin its retreat as you intrepidly place four or five cloves in a slice of lemon.

Place the lot in the heated glass.

STEP THREE.   Add about two spoonfuls of sugar (preferably brown) and pour in boiling water till the glass is about half full.

Stir until the sugar has entirely dissolved.

Bushmills Inn, County Antrim

Finally, a liberal helping of whiskey, preferably distilled in the fair village of Bushmills, County Antrim.

Stir well and savour.

You have just beaten the cold.

Start celebrating.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

James Bell Crichton VC

James Bell Crichton (1879-1961) was born at Carrickfergus, County Antrim, though grew up in the hamlet of Northrigg, near Blackridge, West Lothian.

He served with the Cameron Highlanders during the South African (Boer) War before moving to New Zealand.

Enlisting at the outbreak of the 1st World War, he served as a baker on the Western Front until May, 1918, when he transferred to the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, during the 1st World War.

Private Crichton was awarded the Victoria Cross for his deeds on 30 September 1918 at Crèvecœur, France:
Private Crichton, although wounded in the foot, stayed with the advancing troops despite difficult canal and river obstacles. When his platoon was forced back by a counterattack he succeeded in carrying a message which involved swimming a river and crossing an area swept by machine-gun fire.

Subsequently he rejoined his platoon and later undertook on his own initiative to save a bridge which had been mined. Under close fire he managed to remove the charges, returning with the fuses and detonators.
He was later promoted to sergeant.

Sergeant Crichton died at Takapuna, New Zealand, on 25 September, 1961.

There is a Blue Plaque in his memory at the premises of Weston Engineering, 75 Woodburn Road, Carrickfergus, County Antrim, the location of his family home.

First published in May, 2013.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Tyrone DL


Mr Robert Scott OBE, Lord-Lieutenant of County Tyrone, has been pleased to appoint

Mr David Iain FRAZER,
County Tyrone,

to be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, his commission bearing date the 14th January, 2016.

Robert Scott,
Lord-Lieutenant of the County.

New DLs


Mr David Lindsay, Lord-Lieutenant of County Down, has been pleased to appoint

  • Mrs Catherine June CHAMPION, Newtownards;

  • Dr Robert Alexander LOGAN, Gilford;

  • Mr Michael Desmond WATT, Seaforde;

  • Mrs Amanda Claire BROWNLOW, Portaferry;

To be Deputy Lieutenants of the County

David Lindsay
Lord Lieutenant of the County

Thursday, 21 January 2016


By Jove, it became foggy yesterday morning as I motored in a southerly direction, along the Portaferry Road, towards Greyabbey, County Down.

I was meeting other National Trust Strangford Lough volunteers for some woodland maintenance.

Thompson's Wood, at Island View Road, is to the west of Greyabbey.

It overlooks Skillin's Point and Mid Island.

There were about eight of us today.

We were thinning young trees (22 years old) and working on a wattle enclosure.

Loppers and hand saws were used.

We finished our task at about twelve-thirty, and drove back to our GHQ, the old schoolhouse on the periphery of Mount Stewart estate.

The coast and countryside manager was conducting our biannual meeting to review progress and update us on developments.

I lunched (or munched) on an apple, mandarin, and banana!


I PASSED a local B&M store the other day and they're selling Frank Cooper's raspberry conserve for, I think, 66p or thereabouts.

This sounds like a bargain; have any readers tried this jam?

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Ballymacormick Stonechat

Female stonechat

I've been outdoors for most of the day, at Ballymacormick Point, County Down.

This coastline belongs to the National Trust.

It comprises about thirty-three acres and was acquired in 1952 from Thomas Kingan.

Today, as is frequently the case, we were cutting gorse. 

I parked at Groomsport and we met at the entrance to the property.

Thankfully it was dry with sunny intervals, though there was a bitterly cold wind.

We spotted stonechats, a sparrowhawk, and lapwings today.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

OM Appointments


THE QUEEN has been graciously pleased to make the following appointments to the Order of Merit:
(To be dated 31 December 2015):

The Rt Hon Ara Warkes, Baron DARZI OF DENHAM, KBE PC;

Professor Dame Ann Patricia DOWLING, DBE;

Sir James DYSON, CBE.

The Order of Merit, founded by 1902 by EDWARD VII, is a special mark of honour conferred by the Sovereign on individuals of exceptional distinction in the arts, learning, sciences and other areas such as public service.

Appointments to the Order are in the Sovereign's personal gift and ministerial advice is not required.

At any point in time, there can only be a total of 24 members of the OM.

This has been the case since EDWARD VII established the Order in 1902 to reward those whose accomplishments in the arts, sciences and learning may go unsung.

Also, the honour does not come with a title, so there's no immediately obvious way of knowing someone has been bestowed with it.

Members are given a red and blue enamel badge, which reads "For Merit".

When a member dies the badge is returned to The Sovereign, who receives the next-of-kin personally.

The Sovereign also has a portrait painted of each member, which becomes part of the royal collection, and hosts a gathering for the entire Order every five years.

In Northern Ireland, the Right Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Eames, OM, former Archbishop of Armagh, is a member of the Order.

People who have been awarded the honour include Florence Nightingale - who was the first woman - TS Eliot and Sir Winston Churchill. There have been 11 honorary members from foreign countries, like Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

Although nearly all prime ministers of the 20th Century have been knighted, only six received the Order of Merit.

The late Baroness Thatcher was a member of Order.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Sheriff Appointments




Mr James Ernest Perry
County Antrim


Mr James Arthur Crummie
County Armagh


Mr Philip Baxter
County Down


Mrs Roisin Smyth
County Fermanagh


Mr Damian John Heron
County Londonderry


Mr Patrick John McGowan MBE JP
County Tyrone


Alderman Jim Rodgers OBE
County Down


Mrs Patricia O'Kane
County Londonderry

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Castlereagh: Statesman

Thank heaven the sun is finally showing its face.

It has been raining consistently and quite heavily in Belfast today.

Hence, I decided to pay St George's Market a visit.

This market, located in central Belfast in an island site between Oxford, May, Verner, and East Bridge streets, is one of the city's main attractions.

It was built between 1890-96.

The Sunday Market opens at 10am  and closes at 4pm.

There is a mixture of the traditional Friday Variety Market and Saturday’s City Food and Craft Market.

It has a particular emphasis on local arts and crafts, offering local craftspeople the opportunity to show off their talents.

Live music from top local bands and solo artists also ensures that visitors are kept entertained.

Products on sale include local, continental and speciality foods, scented candles, clothes, handmade jewellery, antiques, art, and souvenirs.

Whilst passing a book stall, my eyes were immediately drawn to a large hardback book entitled Castlereagh, by John Bew.

As it transpires, a fellow browser accosted me with the item in my hand, and remarked upon its considerable size.

I retorted by advising him that it was required for bashing a persistent ganglion on my wrist; in lieu of The Holy Bible.

I think he thought I was blaspheming. There's Belfast humour for you.

I'm assuming - and I stand to be corrected - that the author is the Hon John Bew, son of the Lord Bew.

I encounter Paul, Lord Bew, occasionally at Old Brackenbrian annual dinners in the Ulster Reform Club.

I'm expecting that Castlereagh shall be a very "good read" for me, given my interest in, and fondness for, Mount Stewart and the Londonderrys.

Lord Castlereagh succeeded his father as 2nd Marquess of Londonderry in 1821.